5 October 2012

EFFECTIVE Oct 1, the fares of KLIA Transit Travel Cards have been adjusted by an average increase of 14%.

Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) admitted that the newly introduced fares were not well-received among commuters, but explained that the hike was necessary to cover the operation and maintenance costs.

Under the new fare, the monthly travel cards are now priced between RM100 and RM350 depending on the points of departure and arrival. The weekly travel cards, on the other hand, ranges from RM35 to RM90.

KLIA Transit, which shares the same tracks with KLIA Express, connects KLIA and Kuala Lumpur city centre with three intermediate stops at Bandar Tasik Selatan, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, and Salak Tinggi.

When ERL announced its new fare on its Facebook page, several people commented that the hike was too steep.

Facebook user Mer Du Razz posted a photo of a notice announcing the new fare along with a list of complaints, including poor ticketing system and long queues to exit the station.

“This is a burden to low-income group who has to fully rely on ERL to commute daily to work,” the user wrote.

Another Facebook user, Andrew Tay commented, “This is too much!”

Tay is a 42-year-old IT consultant. When contacted, he said he has been taking ERL since the introduction of KLIA Transit at Putrajaya.

He paid RM285 for the card last month and would soon have to pay RM320, which was about a 12% increase.

“I am quite reluctant to fork out the extra RM35 but I have no other choice. I have to take the ERL to get to the city,” he said.

While agreeing that ERL provides a shorter and stress-free journey for him, Tay felt that the facilities at the train stations could be improved.

“The long queues at the ticket gate spill over to the escalators and platforms during morning rush hours.

“Sometimes our cards are disabled and the cardholders have to make their way to the counter to lodge a report.

“They are asked to come back later to collect the cards,” Tay said.

He added that the fare hike would not encourage the use of public transportation.

Another ERL user, Norazah Muhamad Azha, 40, has to pay RM15 more for her weekly travel card, which she uses to commute between KL Sentral and Putrajaya.

“The fare has been raised from RM75 to RM90.

“An increase of RM5 is reasonable but this amount is too high,” said Norazah.

She said the service provided by ERL was good, efficient and convenient, and she did not have much complaints except for the fare increase and the occasional loud music played in the train.

Meanwhile, Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit spokesman Rajiv Rishyakaran said the government should increase ERL’s frequency and lower the fare to benefit the people.

“Currently, the frequency is at 20 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during off-peak hours.

“Since a lot of money have been spent building the tracks, there should be better utilisation of our invesment,” he said.

When contacted, Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd corporate communications senior executive Arnee Ismail explained that the operation and maintenance costs had gone up substantially since the last fare adjustment in June 2008.

“The 14% average increase is equivalent to less than 3.5% per year,” she said.

She added that the KLIA Transit Travel Card carried a heavily-discounted fare, and the fares were still discounted up to 83% after the adjustment compared to the normal fares.

Normal fare ranges from RM3 to RM35 per trip for adults.

Arnee drew attention to several enhancements to the KLIA Transit service introduced over the past year, including free 4G Wi-Fi onboard all trains since January last year.

“All our trains were progressively refurnished since November last year. All seat covers were replaced.

“Additional train services were also introduced during peak hours from August this year to provide greater convenience and comfort,” she said.

Original Source: thestar.com.my

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